- Adam Schefter, NFL
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Despite the fact that Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is in the final year of his contract, Philadelphia will not let him leave -- no way.
Anybody who has any doubts about whether Philadelphia would slap its franchise tag on Vick need only look at the projected franchise quarterback number.
League sources now peg that number for the 2011 season at $15.42 million, which positions Philadelphia perfectly.
This season, the Eagles are spending $16.6 million on the quarterback position -- $5.2 million on Vick and $11.4 million on Kevin Kolb.
Adding the $15.42 million franchise quarterback number to the $1.4 million base salary that Kolb's contract is scheduled to drop to next season equals $16.82 million -- almost matching the exact Eagles expenditures on the quarterback position this season.
So if the Eagles are unable to sign Vick to a long-term contract extension, the numbers dictate that they would use their franchise tag on him, keeping their costs from one season to the next almost identical.
The Eagles also could shop Kolb. But keep in mind that when they did that last offseason, they asked one team for at least two first-round picks in return, according to an NFL source. It is a stance that Philadelphia refused to budge on -- at least two first-round picks for Kolb or no deal. If the Eagles wanted that much for Kolb last offseason, there's no reason to think they would take much less this offseason.
It is why another season of Vick and Kolb in Philadelphia is, in injury report parlance, probable.
On to this week's 10 Spot:
1. Hard as it is to believe, all four NFC West teams rank in the bottom seven in the league in points per game. The division's collective point differential is an incredible minus-232. The only other division with a negative point differential entering Week 12 is the NFC South at minus-3 -- and the Carolina Panthers get much of that blame. Week 11 play didn't help. For the second time this season, the NFC West lost all its games. In last weekend's four losses, the NFC West was outscored 120-49; in Week 2's four losses, the NFC West was outscored 113-57. Now, with the Seattle Seahawks leading the division at 5-5 and the St. Louis Rams a game back at 4-6 and the 49ers and Cardinals squaring off on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," there's a chance the NFC West will produce the first sub-.500 playoff team under the 12-team playoff format in NFL history. The worst record an NFL playoff team has had under the 12-team playoff format is 8-8, most recently by the 2008 Chargers. The NFC West is bidding for an unwelcome piece of playoff history.
2. With Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy in a walking boot and nursing a high ankle sprain, Jake Delhomme will start against his former Panthers team Sunday. What makes this even more intriguing is that Cleveland is paying Delhomme $7 million this season while Carolina is paying him $12.75 million. So the Panthers will be paying Delhomme more than the team he is trying to help lead to a victory. But Delhomme could help Carolina in a roundabout way; he could do even more to help the Panthers lock up the draft's No. 1 overall pick.
3. Buffalo is going to be near the top of the draft, and Bills general manager Buddy Nix already is doing his due diligence. Nix flew to Northern California last week and spent a day at Stanford looking at quarterback Andrew Luck, who is likely to be the No. 1 pick if he turns pro after this season. Buffalo has been looking for a quarterback like Luck since Jim Kelly retired. The fact that Nix already is spending his time scouting quarterbacks up close and personal is an indication that, as good as Ryan Fitzpatrick has been this season, Buffalo knows it must upgrade at the most important position in sports. But just the Bills' luck: Their improved play might cost them their best chance at Luck.
4. For as putrid as the NFC West has been, the AFC South has to be football's biggest surprise. Nobody would have thought that, on the final weekend of November, the AFC South team in first place would be the Jacksonville Jaguars. It is the same gritty Jaguars with the NFL's 20th-rated offense and 27th-rated defense. Slightly less surprising are some of the struggles of the usually reliable and successful Indianapolis Colts. In each of the past seven seasons, the Colts have won at least 12 regular-season games. But to match that mark this season, the 6-4 Colts will have to go unbeaten in their final six games against San Diego, Dallas, at Tennessee, Jacksonville, at Oakland and Tennessee. It's doable, but not probable.
5. As much as Chargers general manager A.J. Smith would dislike admitting it, San Diego needs wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Desperately. Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd aggravated his hamstring injury Monday night in the rout of the Denver Broncos. Wide receiver Legedu Naanee has had a tough time bouncing back from his hamstring injury, wide receiver Patrick Crayton dislocated his wrist against the Broncos, tight end Antonio Gates has torn plantar fascia and turf toe, and tight end Randy McMichael also has a bad hamstring. Jackson's timing of being activated Tuesday to play Sunday night at Indianapolis is ideal -- even if his contract is not. After the Chargers lowered his tender from $3.268 million to $682,000 last June, Jackson will be paid $280,823 this season to help San Diego make another one of its patented late regular-season runs. For the price, Jackson now might be the best bargain in all of football.
6. Whoever had Tennessee sixth-round pick Rusty Smith from Florida Atlantic making his first NFL start before Denver first-round pick Tim Tebow is a mastermind. The one person not overly surprised is Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger, who once helped recruit Joe Namath to Alabama for Bear Bryant. More than two years ago, Schnellenberger predicted that Smith would be a first-round pick. Schnellenberger's prediction was six rounds too high, but Smith still became the first Florida Atlantic player drafted after he threw for 10,112 yards and 76 touchdowns. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Smith can wing it. And he gets his chance in the most friendly of circumstances in Week 12, playing against the Houston Texans and their 32nd-ranked pass defense. It will be up to Smith to keep the starting job warm until Kerry Collins can return from his calf injury. Of course, Browns rookie McCoy was supposed to do something similar in Cleveland -- and then he exceeded expectations.
7. Nearly five years later, the quarterback class of 2006 doesn't exactly resemble the quarterback class of 1983. Tennessee quarterback Vince Young, the third player picked that year, now is on injured reserve. Houston's Matt Leinart, the 10th player drafted, is the Texans' third-string quarterback after the Arizona Cardinals released him this summer. Chicago's Jay Cutler, whom the Broncos selected 11th overall, has been the best of the bunch, but he has struggled some. There were 11 quarterbacks drafted in 2006. The other eight, in order, were: Kellen Clemens, Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, Brodie Croyle, Ingle Martin, Omar Jacobs, Bruce Gradkowski and D.J. Shockley. Not exactly Elway-, Kelly-, Eason- and Marino-like.
8. On Oct. 10, Kansas City was the NFL's last unbeaten team. It headed to Indianapolis with a chance to win the game. Down 9-6 late in the fourth quarter, after Kansas City safety Jon McGraw picked off a Peyton Manning pass, Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel fired a pass down the left sideline to Dwayne Bowe that looked like an apparent touchdown. But Bowe dropped it. On the very next play, Cassel went back to Bowe. And he dropped it again. Bowe dropped his big chances and Kansas City dropped its chance to remain unbeaten, losing by 10 to the Colts. But it's almost as if Bowe used those plays to motivate and reinvent himself for the rest of the season. In the six games since, Bowe has racked up 563 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions. He leads the league with 11 touchdown receptions.
9. When Minnesota lost last January's NFC Championship Game in overtime, Brad Childress lost his coaching leeway. Had Vikings quarterback Brett Favre not thrown two costly interceptions and running back Adrian Peterson not fumbled twice, Minnesota would have beaten New Orleans and supplanted the Saints in the Super Bowl in a game it quite possibly would have won. Had the Vikings won the Super Bowl, Minnesota would have had a difficult time firing Childress this season, no matter how disastrous it had been. But even if Minnesota had fired him, Childress would have had a Super Bowl win on his resume, elevating him into the speculative conversation about where Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and Brian Billick could land head-coaching jobs. But alas, the Vikings lost the NFC Championship Game and Childress lost his job. Green Bay happily will take its share of credit, too. It demolished Dallas and watched the Cowboys fire Wade Phillips the next day. It manhandled Minnesota and watched the Vikings fire Childress the next day. So heads up to Mike Singletary, whose San Francisco team plays the Packers on Dec. 5.
10. On Monday, Nov. 29, stay tuned for some big NFL news sometime between noon and 3 ET. On each of the past five Mondays, some sort of bombshell has landed between those hours. On Oct. 25, an MRI revealed that Favre had two fractures in his ankle. On Nov. 1, Childress told the Vikings players he was waiving Randy Moss. On Nov. 8, the Cowboys fired Phillips. On Nov. 15, Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb signed his five-year contract extension. And on Nov. 22, the Vikings fired Childress and the Titans told quarterback Vince Young not to bother coming to the team meeting. Monday, Monday.
The Schef's specialties
• Upset of the week: Jacksonville over N.Y. Giants: Just the type of power-rushing team that the Giants have struggled with in recent seasons.
Adam Schefter is an ESPN NFL Insider.
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